Troubled home invader to be sentenced
Convicted on nine of 16 charges after N.D.G. home invasion in 2011
The strange case of an alarm company employee who carried out home invasions at the homes of two customers enters the sentencing stage Thursday.
In June, Dominik Angeli Grou, 27, was convicted on nine of the 16 charges he faced after a March 16, 2011, home invasion in NotreDame-de-Grâce. Angeli Grou entered the home, which belonged to a jeweller, while pretending to be collecting signatures for a petition.
Using a pellet gun, he threatened the homeowner, his girlfriend and adult son in an attempt to force the jeweller to turn off the alarm at his Westmount store so he could rob it.
Angeli Grou bound the victims and held them against their will, but never managed to rob the jewelry store. He made the jeweller drive to the store, but panicked and ultimately fled after he saw a police cruiser drive by.
He was arrested days later, when the Montreal police linked him to a 2009 home invasion in Laval. Police there were zeroing in on Angeli Grou at the same time.
A representative from the alarm company had helped the police connect the dots — as did Angeli Grou’s resemblance to an actor from the television show Arrested Development.
Angeli Grou has yet to be tried for the Laval home invasion but he admitted to carrying out both while testifying at his trial in Montreal this year.
His defence was that he had slipped into an alternate reality while committing both home invasions. He told Quebec Court Judge Louis Legault that, before the home invasions, he entered another world where he became Dominik Two, a second personality who took orders from an imaginary character who persuaded him to steal cash and jewelry in order to “gain points.”
Legault was presented with conflicting expert opinions on whether Angeli Grou could be held criminally responsible for his actions. A psychiatrist for the prosecution believed the accused was faking the symptoms of mental illness — likely from having witnessed an older relative struggle with schizophrenia for years.
Two psychiatrists who testified for the defence said they believe Angeli Grou couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong when he carried out the home invasions, but one cautioned she would have preferred to have had more time to examine him.
In the end, Legault said that, when faced with ample evidence that Angeli Grou spent weeks planning the home invasion in N.D.G., his claims of slipping between the real world and one he imagined made no sense.
“The truth is that he knows he never left the real world and cannot hide in some other world that he invented to serve his impunity,” Legault said in June.
Seemingly acknowledging that Angeli Grou’s problems should be taken into account even if they don’t justify a mental-health defence, Legault asked defence lawyer Jean Louis Poulard and prosecutor Maxime Lacoursière to negotiate which of the 16 charges Angeli Grou should be found guilty of.
“Look, I know, I understand that this gentleman is a frail man, but I could
“He knows he never left the real world and cannot hide in some other world that he invented.”
JUDGE LOUIS LEGAULT
not conclude on the balance of probabilities the presence of a mental disorder,” Legault said. “But there are limits. He’s not the most infamous criminal we’ve had before us.”
Ultimately, Legault found Angeli Grou guilty of breaking and entering, forcible confinement and robbery. Because the first infraction was carried out within the context of a home invasion, it carries the possibility of a life sentence.
Psychiatrist Marie-Frédérique Allard, a defence witness, testified she believes Angeli Grou suffers from Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that left him isolated for much of his life. She said she believes this was accompanied by an unspecified disorder with symptoms resembling paranoid schizophrenia.
Legault has been presented with a portrait of a troubled person who, as a boy, scared his family by disappearing into a corn field for hours while they were on vacation in the Gaspé. He was also described as a teen loner who began having relationships with women as a young adult, after losing weight.
Witnesses told Legault that two women took advantage of Angeli Grou’s naiveté and drained him financially. Just before he carried out the N.D.G. home invasion, he was turned down for debt consolidation.
In recent years, judges have often sentenced people convicted of home invasions to prison terms of roughly 10 years. The defence and the prosecution are expected to make their sentencing recommendations to Legault Thursday.
Tony Hale is best known as a character actor on the television series Arrested Development and Veep.
Dominik Angeli Grou’s defence was that he had slipped into an alternate reality while committing both home invasions.